Our launch is set for December 21, and we have a kind of mass user research event planned for the second week of December. It’s really a heuristic evaluation, and we’re basically opening up shop on our East and West campuses (they’re connected by a bridge) and offering up popcorn and/or hand warmers to those who participate.
Developing a working template for heuristic evaluations is easy, as evidenced by the number of Google results. However, developing one which fits our organization (higher ed and, drilling down even further, a community college with a variety of users and technical aptitudes) makes it even more difficult. I don’t feel that the particular circumstances of our industry make this EXTRA problematic–we’re all facing variances depending on our environment and resources–but adds another layer to the vetting process. For example, are you a current student? If yes, then are you a transfer, do you plan to transfer, etc. If no, then are you an employee? Prospective student/employee? Member of the community? Alum? And so on.
So, anyways the eval part. I modified a few different versions which I found online, and came up with this:
Essentially, we’re gaining feedback on three things: the appearance, the content, and the navigation. The rating system will follow Likert scale (1=low, 5=high). The main modifications which I made are in the heuristic fields:
- we want to make sure that we’re addressing the main concerns of a redesign in terms of appearance and staying within our branding guidelines, as well as selecting icons and images that universal, informative, and not simply gratuitous
- we want to make sure that our content is relevant and helpful, and that we’re steering clear of that problem higher ed sites run into with their web content where it’s organized according to internal structure and audience segments…evident only to employees, basically.
- we want to make sure that the navigation accurately reflects our users needs. This is what 90% of our testing has focused on thus far, so it’s going to very telling to see how it shakes out at this stage.
It will interesting to see how the numbers change from a student perspective to an employee perspective. But it’s back to work now =]
PS I’d love to see the heuristics others are using in their user research, please share below!